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Freeland - A Social Anticipation
by Theodor Hertzka
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'But the precious metals'—thus I interposed—'are not so completely abjured in Freeland as precious stones and pearls. Is there no inconsistency here?'

'I think not,' answered Mrs. Ney. 'We make use of any material in proportion to its beauty and suitability. If we find gems or pearls really useful for decorative purposes, and sufficiently beautiful when thus used to compensate in their aesthetic attractiveness for their cost, we make use of them without hesitation. But that does not apply to jewels as personal ornaments: the natural rose is, under all circumstances, a better adornment than its imitation in rubies and diamonds. The precious metals, on the other hand, have certain properties—durability, lustre, and extraordinary malleability—which in many cases make it imperative to employ them for decorative purposes. Nevertheless, even their employment is very limited among us. These studs here, and the fillet in my daughter's hair, are not of pure gold, but are made of an alloy the principal ingredient in which is steel, and which owes its colour and immunity from rust to gold, without being as costly as silver. No one wishes to pass off such steel-gold for real gold; we use this material simply because we think it beautiful and suitable, and would at once exchange it for another which was cheaper and yet possessed the same properties. We use pure gold only exceptionally. Our table-plate, which you perhaps thought to be silver, is made of an alloy which owes to silver nothing but its resistance to most of the acids. If you examine the plate more closely you will see that this silver-alloy differs from pure silver both in being of a lighter colour and in being less weighty. In short, we use the noble metals never because of, but now and then in spite of, their costliness.

'I might say that we women of Freeland are vain, because our desire to please is more pronounced than that of our Western sisters. We are not content with being beautiful; we wish to appear beautiful, and the men do all they can to stimulate us in this endeavour; only I must ask you to make this distinction—we do not wish to make a show, but to please. Therefore to a Freeland woman dress and adornment are never ends in themselves, but means to an end. In Europe a lady of fashion often disfigures herself in the cruellest manner because she cares less about the effect produced by her person than about that produced by her clothes, her adornment; she does not choose the dress that best brings out her personal charms, but the most costly which her means will allow her to buy. We act differently. Our own aesthetic taste preserves us from the folly of allowing a dressmaker to induce us to wear garments different from those which we think or know will best bring out the good points of our figure. Besides, we can always avail ourselves of the advice of artistically cultured men. No painter of renown would disdain to instruct young women how to choose their toilette; in fact, special courses of lectures are given upon this important subject. Naturally there cannot be any uniform fashion among us, since the composition, the draping, and the colours of the clothing are made to harmonise with the individuality of the wearer. To dress the slender and the stout, the tall and the short, the blonde and the brunette, the imposing and the petite, according to the same model would be regarded here as the height of bad taste. A Freeland woman who wishes to please would think it quite as ridiculous if anyone advised her to change a mode of dressing or of wearing her hair which she had proved to be becoming to her, merely because she had been seen too often dressed in this style. We cannot imagine that, in order to please, it is best to disfigure oneself in as many ways as possible; but we hold firmly to the belief—and in this we are supported by the men—that the human form should be covered and veiled by clothing, but not distorted and disfigured.'

We gallantly declared that we thoroughly agreed with these principles of the toilette. The truth is, that a stranger in Freeland, accustomed to the eccentricities of Western fashions, at first thinks the artistically designed costumes of the women a little too simple, but he ultimately comes to find a return to the Western caricatures simply intolerable. You will remember that in Rome David assured us that European fashions gave him exactly the same impression as those of the African savages. After being here scarcely a week, I begin to entertain the same opinion.

But I see that I must conclude without having exhausted my matter. Promising to give next time what I have omitted here,

Thine,

——.



CHAPTER XVI

Eden Vale: July 28, ——

I could not keep my promise to write again soon, because last week was taken up with a number of excursions which I made with David on horseback, or by means of automatic draisines, into the environs of Eden Vale and to the neighbouring town of Dana, and by rail to the shores of the Victoria Nyanza. In this way I have got to know quite a number of Freeland towns, as well as several scattered industrial and agricultural colonies. I have seen the charming places embosomed in shady woods in the Aberdare range, where extensive metallurgical industries are carried on; Naivasha city, the emporium of the leather industry and the export trade in meat, and whose rows of villas reach round the Naivasha lake, stretching a total distance of some forty miles; the settlements among the hills to the north of the Baringo lake, with their numerous troops of noble horses, herds of cattle and swine, flocks of sheep, multitudes of tame elephants, buffaloes, and zebras, their gold and silver mines; and Ripon, the centre of the mill industry and of the Victoria Nyanza trade. In all the towns I found the arrangements essentially the same as in Eden Vale: electric railways in the principal streets, electric lighting and heating, public libraries, theatres, &c. But what surprised me most was that even the rural settlements, with very few exceptions, were not behind the towns in the matter of comforts and conveniences. Electric railways placed them in connection with the main lines. Wherever five or six villas—for the villa style prevails universally in Freeland—stand together, they have electric lighting and heating; even the remotest mountain-valleys are not without the telegraph and the telephone; and no house is without its bath. Wherever a few hundred houses are not too widely scattered a theatre is built for them, in which plays, concerts, and lectures are given in turn. There is everywhere a superfluity of schools; and if a settler has built his house too far from any neighbours for his children to be able to attend a school near home, the children are sent to the house of a friend, for in Freeland nothing is allowed to stand in the way of the education of the young.

Of course I have not neglected the opportunity of observing the people of Freeland at their work, both in the field and in the factory. And it was here that I first discovered the greatness of Freeland. What I saw everywhere was on an overpoweringly enormous scale. The people of the Western nations can form as faint a notion of the magnitude of the mechanical contrivances, of the incalculable motive force which the powers of nature are here compelled to place at the disposal of man, as they can of the refined, I might almost say aristocratic, comfort which is everywhere associated with labour. No dirty, exhausting manual toil; the most ingenious apparatus performs for the human worker everything that is really unpleasant; man has for the most part merely to superintend his never-wearying iron slaves. Nor do these busy servants pain the ears of their masters by their clatter, rattle, and rumbling. I moved among the pounding-mills of Lykipia, which prepare the mineral manure for the local Manure Association by grinding it between stone-crushers with a force of thousands of hundredweights, and there was no unpleasantly loud sound to be heard, and not an atom of dust to be seen. I went through iron-works in which steel hammers, falling with a force of 3,000 tons, were in use. The same quiet prevailed in the well-lit cheerful factory; no soiling of the hands or faces of the workers disturbed the impression that one here had to do with gentlemen who were present merely to superintend the smithy-work of the elements. In the fields I saw ploughing and sowing: again the same appearance of the lord of the creation who, by the pressure of a finger, directed at will the giants Steam and Electricity, and made them go whither and on what errand he thought fit. I was under the ground, in the coal-pits and the iron-mines, and there I did not find it different: no dirt, no exhaustive toil for the man who looked on in gentlemanly calm whilst his obedient creatures of steel and iron wrought for him without weariness and without murmuring, asking of him nothing but that he should guide them.

During these same excursions I learnt more about a number of the recreations in which the Freelanders specially indulge. With David I visited the numerous points on the Kenia and the Aberdare mountains from which one obtains the most charming views. To these points every Sunday the young people resort for singing and dancing, and as a rule they are treated to some surprise which the Recreation Committee—a standing institution in every Freeland town—has organised in celebration of some event or other. To me the most surprising was the Ice-Festival on the great skating-pool on the Kenia glacier. Five years before, the united Recreation Committees of Eden Vale, Dana City, and Upper Lykipia had converted a plateau nearly 14,000 feet above the sea, and covering 5,900 acres, into a pool fed by water from the adjoining large icefield. From the end of May until the middle of August there are always at this elevation severe night frosts, which quickly convert the glacier-water of the pool, already near the freezing-point, into a solid floor of ice. After surrounding this magnificent skating-place with luxurious warmable waiting, dressing, and refreshment rooms, and connecting it with the foot of the mountain by means of an inclined railway, the united committees handed over their work to the public for gratuitous use. The large expense of construction was easily defrayed by voluntary contributions, and the cost of maintenance was more than covered by the donations of the numerous visitors. During the whole of the cool season the large ice-pool is covered by skaters, very many of whom are women, not merely from the Kenia district—that is, from a radius of sixty or seventy miles—but also from all parts of Freeland. Even from the shores of the Indian Ocean and of the great lakes men and women who are fond of this healthy amusement come to participate in the brilliant ice-festivals. There is at present a project on foot to build at the skating-place a magnificent hotel, which shall enable the lovers of this graceful and invigorating exercise to spend the night at an elevation of nearly 14,000 feet above the sea. Moreover, the great popularity of the Kenia ice-pool has given occasion to another similar undertaking, which is nearly completed on the Kilimanjaro, at a level 1,640 feet higher than the ice-pool of the Kenia. Another projected ice-pool on the Mountains of the Moon, near the Albert Nyanza, has not yet been begun, as the local committee have not yet found a site sufficiently high and large.

But all these arrangements for recreation did not excite my admiration and astonishment so much as the buoyant and—in the best sense of the word—childlike delight and gladness with which the Freelanders enjoyed not merely their pleasures, but their whole life. One gets the impression everywhere that care is unknown in this country. That ingenuous cheerfulness, which among us in Europe is the enviable privilege of the early years of youth, here sits upon every brow and beams from every eye. Go through any other civilised country you please, you will seldom, I might say never, find an adult upon whose countenance untroubled happiness, buoyant enjoyment of life, are to be read; with a careful, most often with an anxious, expression of face men hurry or steal past us, and if there is anywhere to be seen a gaiety that is real and not counterfeited it is almost always the gaiety of recklessness. With us it is only the 'poor in spirit' who are happy; reflection seems to be given us only that we may ponder upon the want and worry of life. Here for the first time do I find men's faces which bear the stamp of both conscious reflection and untroubled happiness. And this spectacle of universal happy contentedness is to me more exhilarating than all else that there is to be seen here. One breathes more freely and more vigorously; it is as if I had for the first time escaped from the oppressive atmosphere of a stifling prison into the freedom of nature where the air was pure and balmy. 'Whence do you get all this reflected splendour of sunny joyousness?' I asked David.

'It is the natural result of the serene absence of care which we all enjoy,' was his answer. 'For it is not a mere appearance, it is a reality, that care is unknown in this country, at least that most hideous, most degrading of all care—how to get daily bread. It is not because we are richer, not even because we are all well-off, but because we—that is, every individual among us—possess the absolute certainty of continuing to be well-off. Here one cannot become poor, for everyone has an inalienable right to his share of the incalculable wealth of the community. To-morrow lies serene and smiling before us; it cannot bring us evil, for the well-being of even the last among us is guaranteed and secured by a power as strong and permanent as the continuance of our race upon this planet—the power of human progress. In this respect we are really like children, whom the shelter and protection of the parental house save from every material care.'

'And are you not afraid,' I interposed, 'that this absence of care will eventually put an end to that upon which you rely—that is, to progress? Hitherto at least want and care have been the strongest incentives to human activity; if these incentives are weakened, if the torturing anxiety about to-morrow ceases, then will progress be slackened, stagnation and then degeneration will follow, and together with the consequent inevitable impoverishment want and care will come again. I must admit that none of this has so far shown itself among you; but this does not remove my fears. For at present you in Freeland are enjoying the fruits of the progress of others. What has been thought out and invented under the pressure of the want and sorrow of unnumbered centuries, what is still being thought out and invented under the pressure of the want and sorrow of untold millions outside the boundaries of your own country—it is all this which makes your present happiness possible. But how will it be when what you are striving after has happened, when the whole human race shall have been converted to your principles? Do you believe that want can completely disappear from off the face of the earth without taking progress with it?'

'We not only believe that,' was his answer, 'but we know it; and everyone who does not allow obsolete prejudices to distort his judgment of facts must agree with us. To struggle for existence is the inexorable command, upon the observance of which nature has made progress—nay, the very being of every living thing—to depend: this we understand better than any other people in the world. But that this struggle must necessarily be prompted by hunger we deny; and we deny also that it is necessarily a struggle between individuals of the same species. Even we have to struggle for existence; for what we require does not fall into our lap without effort and labour. Yet not opposed but side by side do we stand in our struggle; and it is on this very account that the result is never doubtful to us. When we are referred to the conflict to be found everywhere in the animal world, we can appeal to the fact that man possesses other means of struggling than do his fellow-creatures which stand on a lower level, and can work out his evolution in a different manner. But to plead this would be to resort to a poor and unnecessary subterfuge, for in reality the reverse is the case. Want and material care are—with very rare exceptions—no natural stimulants to fight in the competitive struggle for existence. By far the larger number of animals never suffer lack, never feel any anxiety whatever about the morrow; and yet from the beginning all things have been subjected to the great and universal law of progress. Very rarely in the animal world is there the struggle of antagonism between members of the same species; the individuals live together in peace and generally without antagonism, and it is against foes belonging to other species that their weapons are directed. It is against lions and panthers that the gazelle fights for existence by its vigilance and speed, not against its own fellows; lions and panthers employ their cunning and strength against the gazelle and the buffalo, and not against other lions and panthers. Conflict among ourselves and against members of our own species was and is the privilege of the human race. But this sad privilege has sprung from a necessity of civilisation. In order to develop into what we have become we have been obliged to demand from nature more than she is in a position voluntarily to offer us; and for many thousands of years there has been no way of obtaining it but that of satisfying our higher needs by a system of mutual plunder and oppression. And in this way want became a stimulus to conflict in the human struggle for existence. Note, therefore, that the fighting of man against man, with material care as the sharpest spur to the conflict, was not and is not the simple transference to human society of a law everywhere prevalent in nature, but an exceptional distortion of this great natural law under the influence of a certain phase of human development. We suffered want not because nature compelled us to do so, but because we robbed each other; and we robbed each other because with civilisation there arose a disproportion between our requirements and our natural means of satisfying them. But now that civilisation has attained to control over the forces of nature, this disproportion is removed; in order to enjoy plenty and leisure we no longer need to exploit each other. Thus, to put an end to the conflict of man with man, and at the same time of material want, is not to depart from the natural form of the struggle for existence, but in reality to return to it. The struggle is not ended, but simply the unnatural form of it. In its endeavour to raise itself above the level of the merely animal nature, humanity was betrayed into a long-enduring strife with nature herself; and this strife was the source of all the unspeakable torture and suffering, crime and cruelty, the unbroken catalogue of which makes up the history of mankind from the first dawn of civilisation until now. But this dreadful strife is now ended by a most glorious victory; we have become what we have endeavoured for thousands of years to become, a race able to win from nature plenty and leisure for all its members; and by this very re-acquired harmony between our needs and the means of satisfying them have we brought ourselves again into unison with nature. We remain subject to nature's unalterable law of the struggle for existence; but henceforth we shall engage in this conflict in the same manner as all other creatures of nature—our struggle will be an external, not an internal one, not against our fellow-men nor prompted by the sting of material want.'

'But,' I asked, 'what will prompt men to struggle in the cause of progress when want has lost its sting?'

'Singular question! You show very plainly how difficult it is to understand things which contradict the views we have drunk in with our mother's milk, and which we have been accustomed to regard as the foundation-stones of order and civilisation, even when those views most manifestly contradict the most conspicuous facts. As if want had ever been the sole, or even the principal, spring of human progress! The strife with nature, in which the disproportion between the needs of civilisation and the ability to satisfy those needs led mankind through a long period of transition from barbarism to a state of culture worthy of human nature, had, it is true this result—viz. that the struggle for existence assumed not only its natural forms, but also forms which were unnatural, and which did violence to the real and essential character of most of nature's offspring; yet these latter forms never attained to absolute dominion. In fact, as a rule nature has shown herself stronger than the human institutions which were in conflict with her. During the whole of the history of civilisation we owe the best achievements of the human intellect not to want, but to those other impulses which are peculiar to our race, and which will remain so as long as that race dominates the earth. Thrice blind is he who will not see this! The great thinkers, inventors, and discoverers of all ages and all nations have not been spurred on by hunger; and in the majority of cases it may be asserted that they thought and speculated, investigated and discovered, not because they were hungry, but in spite of it. Yet—so it may be objected—those men were the elect of our race; the great mass of ordinary men can be spurred on only by vulgar prosaic hunger to make the best use of what the elect have discovered and invented. But those who judge thus are guilty of a most remarkable act of oversight. Only those who are strongly prejudiced can fail to see that it is just the well-to-do, the non-hungry, who most zealously press forward. Hunger is certainly a stimulus to labour, but an unnerving and pernicious one; and those who would point triumphantly to the wretches who can be spurred on to activity only by the bitterest need, and sink into apathy again as soon as the pangs of hunger are stilled, forget that it is this very wretchedness which is the cause of this demoralisation. The civilised man who has once acquired higher tastes will the more zealously strive to gratify those tastes the less his mental and physical energy has been weakened by degrading want, and the less doubtful the result of his effort is. For all unprejudiced persons must recognise the most effective stimulus to activity not in hopeless want, but in rational self-interest cheerfully striving after a sure aim. Now, our social order, far from blunting this self-interest, has in reality for the first time given it full scope. You may therefore be perfectly certain of this: the superiority over other nations in inventiveness and intellectual energy which you have already noted among us is no accidental result of any transitory influences, but the necessary consequence of our institutions. Every nation that adopts these institutions will have a similar experience. Just as little as we need the stimulus of the pangs of want to call forth those inventions and improvements which increase the amount and the variety of our material and intellectual enjoyments, so little will progress he checked in any other nation which, like us, finds itself in the happy position of enjoying the fruits of progress.'

I was deeply moved as my friend thus spoke like an inspired seer. 'When I look at the matter closely,' I said, 'it seems as if, according to the contrary conception, there can be progress only where it is to all intents and purposes useless. For the fundamental difference between you Freelanders and ourselves lies here—that you enjoy the fruits of progress, while we merely busy ourselves with the Danaidean vessel of over-production. No one doubts that Stuart Mill was right when he complained that all our discoveries and inventions had not been able to alleviate the sorrow and want of a single working-man; nevertheless, what terrible folly it would be to believe that that very want was necessary in order that further discoveries and inventions might be made!

'But,' I continued, 'to return to the point at which we started: you have not yet fully explained to me all the astonishing, heart-quickening cheerfulness which prevails everywhere in this land of the happy. Want and material care are here unknown: admitted. But there are outside of Freeland hundreds of thousands, nay millions, who are free from oppressive care: why do they not feel real cheerfulness? Compare, for instance, our respective fathers. Mine is unquestionably the richer of the two, and yet what deep furrows care has engraved upon his forehead, what traces of painful reflection there are about his mouth; but what a gladsome light of eternal youth shines from every feature of your father! I might almost imagine that the air which one breathes in this country has a great deal to do with this; for the folds and wrinkles in my father's features of which I have just spoken have in the fortnight of our stay here grown noticeably less, and I myself feel brighter and happier than ever I felt before.'

'You have forgotten the most important thing,' replied David—'the influence of public feeling upon the feelings of the individual. Man is a social being whose thoughts and feelings are derived only in part from his own head and his own heart, whilst a not less important part of them—I might say the fundamental tone which gives colour and character to the individual's intellectual and emotional life—has its source in the social surroundings for the time being. Everyone stands in a not merely external, but also an internal, indissoluble relation of contact with those who are around him; he imagines that he thinks and feels and acts as his own individuality prompts, but he thinks, feels, and acts for the most part in obedience to an external influence from which he cannot escape—the influence of the spirit of the age which embraces all heads, all hearts, and all actions. Had the enlightened humane freethinker of to-day been born three centuries ago, he would have persecuted those who differed from him upon the most subtile, and, as he now thinks, ridiculous points of belief, with the same savage hatred as did all others who were then living. And had he seen the light yet a few centuries earlier—say, among the pagan Saxons of the days of Charlemagne—human sacrifices would have shocked him as little as they did the other worshippers of the goddess Hertha. And the man who, brought up as a pagan Saxon in the forests of the Weser and the Elbe, would have held it honourable and praiseworthy to make the altar-stone of Hertha smoke with the blood of slaughtered captives, would in that same age have felt invincible horror at such a deed, had he—with exactly the same personal capabilities—by accident been born in imperial Byzantium instead of among German barbarians. At Byzantium, on the other hand, he would have indulged in lying and deceit without scruple, whilst, if surrounded by the haughty German heroes, he—in other respects the same man from head to foot—would have been altogether incapable of such weak vices. Since this is so—since the virtues and vices, the thoughts and the feelings, of those of our contemporaries among whom we are born and brought up give the fundamental tone to our own character, it is simply impossible that the members of a community, maddened by a ceaseless fear of hunger, should pass their lives in undisturbed serenity. Where an immense majority of the people never know what the morrow may bring forth—whether it may bring a continuance of miserable existence or absolute starvation—under the dominion of a social order which makes one's success in the struggle for existence depend upon being able to snatch the bread out of the mouth of a competitor, who in his turn is coveting the bread we have, and is striving with feverish anxiety to rob us of it—in a society where everyone is everyone's foe, it is the height of folly to talk of a real gladsome enjoyment of life. No individual wealth protects a man from the sorrow that is crushing the community. The man who is a hundredfold a millionaire, and who cannot himself consume the hundredth part of the interest of his interest, even he cannot escape the sharp grip of the horrid hunger-spectre any more than the most wretched of the wretched who wanders, roofless and cold and hungry, through the streets of your great cities. The difference between the two lies not in the brain and in the heart, but simply in the stomach; the second simply endures physical suffering over and above the psychical and intellectual suffering of the first. But the psychical and mental suffering is permanent, and therefore more productive of results. Look at him, your Croesus plagued with a mad hunger-fever; how breathlessly he rushes after still greater and greater gains; how he sacrifices the happiness and honour, the enjoyment and peace, of himself and of those who belong to him to the god from whom he looks to obtain help in the universal need—the god Mammon. He does not possess his wealth, he is possessed by it. He heaps estate upon estate, imagining that upon the giddy summit of untold millions he shall obtain security from the sea of misery which rages horridly around him. Nay, so blinded is the fool that he does not perceive how it is merely this ocean of universal misery that fills him with horror; but he rather cherishes the sad delusion that his dread will become less if but the abyss below be deeper and farther removed from his giddy seat above. And let it not be supposed that by this superstitious dread of hunger merely the foolishness of individuals is referred to. The whole age is possessed by it, and the best natures most completely so. For the more sensitive are the head and the heart, the more potent is the influence exerted by the common consciousness of universal want in contrast with transitory individual comfort. Only absolutely cold-hearted egoists or perfect idiots form here and there an exception; they alone are able really to enjoy their wealth undisturbed by the hunger-spectre which is strangling millions of their brethren.

'This, Carlo, is what imprints upon the faces of all of you such Hippocratic marks of suffering. You can never give yourselves up to the unrestrained enjoyment of life so long as you breathe an atmosphere of misery, sorrow, and dread. And it is this community of feeling, which connects every man with his surroundings, that enables you here, only just arrived among a society to which this misery, this sorrow, this dread, are totally unknown, to enjoy that cheerful serenity of thought and emotion which is the innate characteristic of every healthy child of nature. And we, who have lived for a generation in the midst of this community from which both misery and the fear of misery are absent—we have almost completely got rid of that gloomy conception of human destiny of which we were the victims so long as the Old World was about us with its self-imposed martyrdom. I use the limiting expression "almost" with reference to those among us who had reached adult manhood before they came to Freeland. We younger ones, who were born and have grown up here without having ever seen misery, differ in this respect very considerably from our elders who in their youth saw the Medusa-head of servility face to face. It is five-and-twenty years since my father and mother, who were both among the first arrivals at the Kenia, escaped from the mephitic atmosphere of human misery, the degradation of man by man. But the recollection of the horrors among which they formerly lived, and which they shared without being able to prevent, will never quite fade out of their minds, and their hearts can never be fully possessed by that godlike calm and cheerful serenity which is the natural heritage of their children, whose hands have never been stained by the sweat and blood of enslaved fellow-men, and who have never had to appropriate for their own enjoyment the fruit of the labour of others—have never stood before the cruel alternative of being either the hammer or the anvil in the struggle for existence.'

You know me well enough to imagine what an overpowering impression these words would make upon me. But I recalled by accident at this very moment a conversation I had had with the elder Ney about savings and insurance in Freeland, and it occurred to me that these were both things that did not harmonise with the absence of care of which his son had just been speaking. So I asked David, 'Why do men save in a country in which everyone can reckon with certainty upon a constantly increasing return for his industry, and in which even those who are incapable of work are protected not merely against material want, but even against the lack of higher enjoyments? Does not this thrift prove that anxiety for the morrow is not after all quite unknown here?'

'Almost all men save in Freeland,' answered David; 'nay, I can with certainty say that saving is more general here than in any other country. The object of this saving is to provide for the future out of the superfluity of the present; and certainly it follows from this that a certain kind of care for the morrow is very well known among us also. The distinction between our saving and the anxious thrift of other peoples lies merely here, that our saving is intended net to guard us against want, but simply against the danger of a future diminution of the standard of our accustomed enjoyments; and that we pursue this aim in our saving with the same calm certainty as we do our aim in working. A contradiction between this and what was said just now is found only when you overlook the equivocal meaning of the word "care." We know no "care" so far as a fear concerning the morrow is implied by the word; but our whole public and private life is pervaded by foresight, in the sense of making precautionary arrangements to-day in order that the needs of to-morrow may be met. Fear and uneasiness about the future, the atra cura of the Latins, you will look for among us in vain. It is this care which poisons the pleasure of the present; whilst that other, which can only improperly be called care, but the real name of which is foresight, by means of the perfect sense of security which it creates concerning the morrow enhances the delight of present enjoyment by the foretaste to-day of future enjoyments already provided for. Herein lies the guarantee of the success of our institutions, that, while solidarity is secured between the interest of the individual and the interest of the community, the individual possesses, together with liberty of action, a part of the responsibility of his action. Only a part, because the action of the individual is not altogether without limitations. Everyone in Freeland is hedged in by the equal rights of all the others, even more and more effectually than elsewhere. Consequently, everyone's responsibility finds its limitations just where the responsibility of all can be substituted for his own. And the guarding against actual deprivation on the part of anyone is one of the obligations of the whole community, which thereby and at the same time protects itself. Just as among you, a noble family, acting in its own well-understood interest, would not allow any of its members to fall into sordid misery, so long as it could in any way prevent it, so we, who act upon the principle that all men are brothers of the one noble race destined to exercise control over the rest of nature, do not allow anyone who bears our family features to suffer want so far as our means allow us to save him from it. An existence altogether worthy of man, participation in all that the highest culture makes necessary—this we guarantee to all who live in our midst, even when they have left off working. But absolute necessaries do not include the whole of the good things attainable at any given time; whence it follows that the transition from labour to the ever so well-earned leisure of age would be connected with the deprivation of a number of highly prized customary enjoyments, if the copious proceeds of former labour were not in part laid by for use in this time of leisure. Take, for example, my father: if he pleased to spend now the 1,440L which he receives as one of the Freeland executive, together with the 90L which my mother's claim for maintenance amounts to, he could not, after his retirement from office, with the fifty-five per cent. of the maintenance-unit to which he and my mother together would be entitled—that is, with 330L—carry on his household without retrenchments which, though they might deprive him only of superfluities, would nevertheless be keenly felt, because they would involve the giving up of what he has accustomed himself to. It is true that a considerable number of his present expenses consists of items which in part would cease in the course of time, in part—e.g., his contributions to benevolent objects in other parts of the world—could not be expected from persons who are receiving a maintenance from the commonwealth, and in part would no longer accord with the tastes and capacities of aged persons. But in spite of all this, my parents would have to forego many things to which they are accustomed; and to avoid this is the purpose of their saving.

'In order that this end may be attained, we have an altogether peculiar form of insurance. The insurance department of our central bank supplies the stipulated insurance-money not in fixed amounts, but in sums bearing a certain proportion to the common maintenance-allowance, or—which amounts to the same thing—to the average value of labour for the time being. As the aim of the insured is to be completely saved from anxiety as to the future, there must, in view of the continual increase in the profits of labour, be maintained an exact correspondence between those profits and the amount of insurance. For the requirements of the individual are regulated by the standard of life around him, and when this is raised so are his requirements raised. The annuity secured by the insurance must therefore be variable, if its object is to be completely attained. Consequently, the premiums are regulated by the height of the profits of labour for the time being. Certainly the inevitable arbitrariness of the connection between the premium and the claim of the insured is thereby magnified; but we do not allow that to trouble us. Our experts have taken into consideration, with the most scrupulous attempt at accuracy, all the appertaining factors, and the premiums—the rates of which have, since the institution has been in existence, been slightly amended to bring them into harmony with the teaching of experience—were so fixed as to make it probable that they would suffice to cover all current demands. If, however, contrary to our expectation, we should find that we erred on one side or the other, we should not look upon this as a great misfortune. The satisfaction of having secured to ourselves means sufficient to meet our requirements at all times will not appear to us to have been too dearly bought even if it prove that we have paid a few shillings or pounds more than was necessary; and, on the other hand, if the premiums should prove to have been too small, the deficiency will be at once made up out of the resources of the commonwealth.

'Perhaps you will ask what right we have in this way to burden future generations to the profit of their ancestors? The same right that we have continually to project into the future the claims upon the maintenance-allowance. As you know, these are entirely discharged out of the current public revenue, no reserve being accumulated for this purpose, the principle acted upon being that the workers of the present have to support the invalids of the past. Our parents when incapable of working are maintained out of the proceeds of our labour; and when we in our turn become incapable of working, it will be the duty of our children to support us out of the proceeds of their labour. It is no favour which we show to our parents and expect from our children, but a right—a right based upon the fact that each successive generation enjoys not merely the fruits of its own labour, but also the fruits of the labour of its predecessors. Without the treasures of knowledge and inventiveness, of wealth and capital, which we accumulate and bequeath, our posterity would be very poorly provided for. And if the next generation should find itself called upon to make up any deficit in favour of those of their parents who—it is immaterial on what ground—held an extraordinary increase in their maintenance-allowance to be necessary, we should not find any injustice in that, because the payments of the insured at once found employment in such a way as to benefit not merely the present, but also the future. The insurance-premiums have already accumulated to milliards; they have been invested chiefly in railways, canals, factories—in short, in works in aid of labour, most of which will endure for many generations. You may therefore regard the additional sums which may possibly have to be paid by the workers of the future to the insured of to-day as an insignificant interest subsequently levied by the latter upon the former; or, what is simpler still, you can imagine that the fathers retain for their own use until the end of their lives a part of the wealth they themselves have earned, and then at their death bequeath their whole property to their descendants.'

Here David ended his instructions for the time; and I will imitate him.

——



CHAPTER XVII

Eden Vale: Aug. 2, ——

For some time I have been deeply interested in the education of the young here, and the day before yesterday was devoted to the study of this subject. Accompanied by David, I first visited one of the many kindergartens which are pretty evenly distributed about the town in Eden Vale. In an enclosure consisting partly of sunny sward and partly of shady grove, some fifty boys and girls of from four to six years of age were actively occupied under the direction of two young women of about eighteen or twenty, and a young widow. The children sang, danced, indulged in all sorts of fun and frolic, looked at picture-books which were explained to them, listened sometimes to fairy-tales and sometimes to instructive narratives, and played games, some of which were pure pastime and others channels of instruction. Among the little people, who enjoyed themselves right royally, there was a constant coming and going. Now one mother brought her little one, and now another fetched hers away. In general the Freeland mothers prefer to have their children with them at home; only when they leave home or pay a visit, or have anything to attend to, do they take their little ones to the nearest kindergarten and fetch them away on their return. Sometimes the young people beg to be allowed to go to the kindergarten, and the mothers grant them their request. But that is an exception; as a rule the children sport about at home under the eyes of their parents, and the earliest education is the special duty of the mother. A Freeland wife seldom needs to be taught how this duty can be best fulfilled; if she does there is a kindergarten not far off, or, later, the pedagogium, where good advice can always be obtained. I was told that every Freeland child of six years can read, has some skill in mental arithmetic, and possesses a considerable amount of general information, without having seen anything but a picture-book.

After the kindergarten came the elementary school. These schools also are pretty evenly distributed about Eden Vale, and, like the kindergartens, are surrounded by large gardens. They have four classes, and girls and boys are taught together. The teaching is entirely in the hands of women, married or unmarried; only gymnastics and swimming are taught by men to the boys. These two subjects occupy both boys and girls an hour every day. At least thrice a week excursions of several hours' duration are made into the neighbouring woods and hills, accompanied by a teacher for each class, and during these excursions all kinds of object-teaching are pursued. I watched the pupils at their books and in the gymnasium, in the swimming-school and on the hills, and had abundant opportunity of convincing myself that the children possessed at least as much systematised knowledge as European children of the same ago; whilst upon vaulting-horse and bars, climbing-pole and rope, they were as agile as squirrels; in the water they swam like fishes, and after a three hours' march over hill and dale they were as fresh and sprightly as roes.

We next went to the middle schools, in which boys and girls of from ten to sixteen years are taught apart, the former solely by men, the latter partly by women. Here still greater attention is paid to bodily exercises of all kinds, and in order to obtain the requisite space these schools are located on the outskirts of the town, in the neighbourhood of the woods. I was astonished at the endurance, strength, and grace of the boys and girls in gymnastics, running, jumping, dancing, and riding. The boys I also saw wrestling, fencing, and shooting. A few passes with the rapier and the sabre with several of the youngsters showed me, to my surprise, that they were not merely my equals, but in many points were superior to me, though you know that I am one of the best fencers in Italy, the country so renowned for this art. I was not less astonished at the splendid muscular development of the half-grown wrestlers and gymnasts, than at the ease with which the same youths overtook a horse at full gallop and threw themselves upon its back. But I was completely dumfounded with the skill with which the lads used their rifles. The target—scarcely so large as an ordinary dinner-plate—was seldom missed at a distance of 550 yards, and not a few of the young marksmen sent ball after ball into the bull's-eye. Altogether the upper classes of these middle schools gave me the impression that they were companies of picked young athletes; at the same time these athletes showed themselves well acquainted with all those branches of learning which are taught in the best European secondary schools.

I learnt that, up to this age, the instruction given to all the children of Freeland is the same, except that among the girls less time is given to bodily exercises and more to musical training. At sixteen years of age begins the differentiation of the training of the sexes, and also the preparation of the boys for their several vocations. The girls either remain at home, and there complete their education in those arts and branches of knowledge, the rudimental preparation for which they have already received; or they are sent as pupil-daughters, with the same view, to the house of some highly cultured and intellectually gifted woman. Others enter the pedagogic training institutions, where they are trained as teachers, or they hear a course of lectures on nursing, or devote themselves to aesthetics, art, &c.

The boys, on the other hand, are distributed among the various higher educational institutions. Most of them attend the industrial and commercial technical institutions, where they spend a year or two in a scientific and practical preparation for the various branches of commerce and industry. Every Freeland worker passes through one of these institutions, whether he intends to be agriculturist, spinner, metal-worker, or what not. There is a double object aimed at in this: first, to make every worker, without distinction, familiar the whole circle of knowledge and practice connected with his occupation; and next to place him in the position of being able to employ himself profitably, if he chooses to do so, in several branches of production. The mere spinner, who has nothing to do but to watch the movements of his spindles, in Freeland understands the construction and the practical working of everything connected with his industry, and knows what are the sources whence it derives its materials and where its best markets are; from which it follows that when the functionaries of his association are to be elected the worker is guided in voting by his technical knowledge, and it is almost impossible that the choice should fall upon any but the best qualified persons. But, further, this simple spinner in Freeland is no mere automaton, whose knowledge and skill begin and end with the petty details of his own business: he is familiar with at least one or several other branches of industry; and from this again it follows that the man can take advantage of any favourable circumstance that may occur in such other branch or branches of industry, and can exchange the plough for the loom, the turning-lathe for the hammer, or even any of these for the writing-desk or the counting-house; and by this means there can be brought about that marvellous equilibrium in the most diverse sources of income which is the foundation of the social order of the country.

Young persons who have given evidence of possessing superior intellectual ability attend the universities, in which Freeland's professors, the higher government officials, physicians, technicians, &c., are educated; or the richly endowed academies of art, which send forth the architects, sculptors, painters, and musicians of the country. Even in all these educational institutions great importance is attached to physical as well as to intellectual development. The industrial and commercial technical colleges have each their gymnasium, wrestling-hall, and riding-school, their shooting and fencing ground, just as the universities and academies have; and as in these places the youths are not so directly under the control of their teachers as are the boys in the intermediate schools, the institution of public local and national exercises prevents the students from relaxing in their zeal for bodily exercises. All young men between sixteen and twenty-two years of age are organised in companies of a thousand each, according to their place of abode; and, under officers chosen by themselves, they meet once a month for exercise, and in this way still further develop their physical powers and skill. Once a year, in each of the forty-eight districts into which Freeland is divided for administrative purposes, a great competition for prizes takes place, before a committee of judges selected from the winners of previous years. On these occasions there are first single contests between fencers, marksmen, riders, wrestlers, and runners, the competitors being champions chosen by each thousand from their own number; and next, contests between the thousands themselves as such. A few weeks later there is a national festival in a valley of the Aberdare range specially set apart for this purpose; at that festival the winners in the district contests compete for the national championship. I am assured that no Greek youth in the best age of Hellas more eagerly contended for the olive-branch at the Isthmian Games than do the Freeland youths for the prize of honour at these Aberdare games, although here also the prize consists of nothing but a simple crown of leaves—a prize which, certainly, is enhanced by the fanfares of triumph which resound from the Indian Ocean to the Mountains of the Moon and from Lake Tanganika to Lake Baringo, and by the enthusiastic jubilation of such districts and towns as may be fortunate enough to have sent successful competitors. Hundreds of thousands stream out of all parts of the country to these contests; and the places to which the victors belong, particularly the district of the conquering thousand, welcome back their youths with a series of the most brilliant festivals.

When I heard this, I could not refrain from remarking that such enthusiasm on the occasion of a mere pastime seemed to me to be extravagant; and I particularly expressed my astonishment that Freeland, the home of social equity, could exhibit such enthusiasm for performances which might appear important in warlike Hellas, but which here, where everything breathed inviolable peace, could have no value but as simple bodily exercises.

'Quite right,' answered David, 'only it is this very superiority in bodily exercises which secures to us Freelanders the inviolable peace which we enjoy. We have no military institutions; and if it were not for our superiority in all that appertains to bodily strength and skill we should be an easy prey to any military Power that coveted our wealth.'

'But you surely do not imagine,' I cried, not without a sarcastic smile, 'that your boy-fencers and marksmen and the victors at your Isthmian Games make you a match for any great military Power that might really attack you? In my opinion, your safety lies in the mutual jealousy of the European Powers, each of which is prevented by the others from seizing such a prize; and yet more in your isolation, the sea and mountains saving you from such dangerous visits. But, to secure yourselves against contingencies, I think it would be well for you to make some military provision, such as a competent militia, and particularly a powerful fleet, the expense of which would be nothing in comparison with your wealth.'

'We think differently,' said David. 'Not our war-games, but our superior physical ability which is exhibited in those games perfectly secures us against any attack from the most powerful foe who, against our harmoniously developed men and youths perfected in the use of every kind of arm, could bring into the field nothing but a half-starved proletariat scarcely able to handle their weapons when required to do so. We hold that in war the number of shots is of less moment than the number of hits, and that the multitude of fighters counts for less than their efficiency. If you had seen, as I did, at the last year's national festival how the victorious thousand won their prize, you would perhaps admit that troops composed of such men, or of men who approached them in skill, need fear no European army.'

On my asking what were the wonderful feats performed on the occasion referred to, David gave me a detailed account of the proceedings, the substance of which I will briefly repeat. In the contests between the thousands, the firing en masse is directed against a gigantic movable target, which represents in life-size a somewhat loosely ordered front-line of a thousand men; by a special apparatus, the front line, when at a distance of about 1,300 yards, is set quickly in motion towards the firing-party, and the mechanism of the target is so arranged that every bullet which hits one of the thousand figures at once throws that figure down, so that the row of the imaginary foes gets thinner at every hit. The rule is that that thousand is the victor which knocks down the whole of the figures in the approaching target in the shortest time and with the least expenditure of bullets. Of course these two conditions compensate each other according to certain rules—that is, a small plus in time is corrected by a corresponding minus in the ammunition consumed, and vice versa. At all events, it is incumbent to shoot quickly and accurately; and in particular the competing thousands must be so thoroughly well drilled and so completely under command that on no account are two or more marksmen to aim at the same figure in the target. This last condition is no trifling one; for if it is difficult in a line of a thousand men to allot to every marksman his particular aim, and that instantaneously, without reflection and without recall, the difficulty must be very much greater when the number of the objects aimed at is continually becoming less, whilst the number of the marksmen remains the same. In addition to all this, in order to have any chance at all of winning the olive-branch, the firing must begin the moment the target is set in motion—that is, when the figures are at a distance of 1,300 yards. At the last contest, the victorious thousand emptied the target within 145 seconds from the moment of starting. The target during this time had only got within 924 yards of the marksmen, who had fired 1,875 shots. Of course, it is not to be inferred that the same results would necessarily be obtained from firing at living and not inactive foes. But if it be taken into consideration—so David thought—that the intensity of the excitement of the Freeland youth in front of a European army could scarcely be so great as on the competition-field, when they are striving to wrest the much-coveted prize from well-matched opponents—for the least successful of the competing forty-eight thousands emptied the target in 190 seconds, when it had got within a distance of 930 yards and had fired 2,760 shots; and when, further, it is remembered that, in the presence of an actual foe, the most difficult of the conditions of the contest—viz. that of the lowest number of shots—ceases to exist; then it must certainly be admitted that such firing would, probably in a few minutes, completely annihilate an equally numerous body of men within range, and that it would sweep away twice or thrice as many as the shooters before the foe would be in a position to do the shooters any very material injury. There is no European army, however numerous it may be, which would be able to stand against such firing. It is not to be expected that men, who are driven forward by nothing but mere discipline, would even for a few minutes face such a murderous fusillade.

On my part I had no argument of weight to meet this. I did not deny that the soldiers in our gigantic European armies, who do nothing with their shooting-sticks but allay their helpless fears by shooting innumerable holes in the air, only one out of two hundred of their bullets reaching its billet, could do little with such antagonists. 'But how would you defend yourselves against the artillery of European armies?' I asked.

'By our own artillery,' answered David. 'Since these institutions of ours have the double purpose of stimulating zeal for physical development and of making us secure against attack without maintaining an army, we give considerable prominence in our exercises to practising with cannons of the most various calibres. And even this practice is begun at school. Those boys who, having reached the fourth class in the intermediate schools, have shown proficiency in other things, are promoted to artillery practice—and this, it may be observed, has proved to be a special stimulus to effort. The reason you have not seen the cannons is that the exercise-ground lies some distance outside of the town—a necessary arrangement, as some of the guns used are monsters of 200 tons, whose thunder would ill accord with the idyllic peace of our Eden Vale. The young men are so familiar with this kind of toy, and many of them have, after profound ballistic studies, brought their skill to such perfection, that in my opinion they would show themselves as superior to their European antagonists in artillery as they would in rifle-practice. The same holds good of our horsemen. In brief, we have no army; but our men and youths handle all the weapons which an army needs infinitely better than the soldiers of any army whatever. And as, moreover, for the purposes of our great prize-contests there exists an organisation by means of which, out of the 2,500,000 men and youths whom Freeland now possesses capable of bearing arms, the best two or three hundred thousand are always available, we think it would he a very easy thing to ward off the greatest invading army—a danger, indeed, which we do not seriously anticipate, as we doubt if there is a European people that would attack us. Rifles and cannons collected for use against us would very soon—without our doing anything—be directed against those who wished us ill.'

To this I assented. We then discussed several other topics connected with the education of the young; and I took occasion to ask how it was that the before-mentioned voluntary insurance against old age and death in Freeland was effected on behalf of only the insurer himself and his wife, and not of his children. According to all I had seen and heard, indifference towards the fate of the children could not be the reason. I therefore asked David to tell me why, whilst we in Europe saved chiefly for the children, here in Freeland nothing was laid by for them.

'The reason,' explained David, 'lies here; the children are already sufficiently provided for—as sufficiently as are those who are unable to work, and the widows. And this is necessarily involved in the principle of economic justice; for if the children were thrown upon the voluntary thrift of their parents—as they are with you—they would be made dependent upon conduct upon which they in truth could exercise no influence. If I accustom myself to requirements which my maintenance-allowance could not enable me to satisfy, it lies in my own power permanently to secure what I need by means of an insurance-premium. If I neglect to do this, it is my own fault, and I have no right to complain when I afterwards have to endure unpleasant privations. The case is the same with my wife, for she exercises the same influence over the management of the household as I do. My children, on the other hand, would suffer innocently if they were thrown upon our personal forethought for what they would need in the future. They must, therefore, be protected from any privation whatever, independently of anything that I may do. And that is the case. What we bequeath to our children, and bequeath it in all cases, is the immense treasure of the powers and wealth of the commonwealth delivered into their care and disposition. Just think. The public capital of Freeland already amounts to as much as 6,000L for every working inhabitant; and last year this property yielded to everyone who was moderately industrious a net income of 600L, and the ratio of income is, moreover, constantly growing year by year.'

'But,' I interposed, 'suppose a child is or becomes incapable of work?'

'If he is so from childhood, then the forty per cent. of the maintenance-unit, to which in such a case he has a right, is abundantly sufficient to meet all his requirements, for he neither can nor should have an independent household. If he becomes incapable of work, after he has set up a household and perhaps has children of his own, it would be his own, not his parents' fault, if he had neglected to provide for this emergency—assuming, of course, that he considered it necessary to make such provision.'

'Very well; I perfectly understand that. But how is it with those who are orphaned in infancy? Is no provision made for such? It cannot possibly accord with the sentiments of Freeland parents who live in luxury to hand over their children to public orphanages?'

'As to orphanages, it is the same as with hospitals,' answered David. 'If by orphanages you mean those barracks of civilised Europe or America, in which the waifs of poverty are without love, and after a mechanical pattern educated into the poor of the future, there are certainly none such among us. But if you mean the institutions in which the Freeland orphans are brought up, I can assure you that the most sensitive parents can commit their children to them with the most perfect confidence. Of course, nothing can take the place of parental love; but otherwise the children are cared for and brought up exactly as if they were in their parents' house. The sexes dwell apart by tens in houses which differ in nothing from other Freeland private houses; and they are under the care of pedagogically trained guardians, whose duty it is not to teach them, but to watch over them and attend to all their domestic wants. Food, clothing, play,—in short, the whole routine of life is in every respect similar to that of the rest of Freeland. They are taught in the public schools; and after they have passed through the intermediate schools, the young people themselves decide whether they will go to a technical school or to a university. Until their majority they remain in the adoptive home selected for them by the authorities, and then, if they are not yet able to maintain themselves, they enjoy the general right of maintenance-allowance. What more could the most affectionate care of parents do for them? Not even the most intangible reproach can attach to training in such a public orphanage, for the children are not the children of poverty, but simply orphans.'

'But I imagine that orphans from better houses are adopted by relatives or acquaintances, particularly if the parents make full provision for their support,' I answered.

'In case there are such houses to which the children can go, the parents need make no provision for their maintenance, but merely a testamentary declaration, and the children will then be transferred to such houses without becoming any pecuniary burden to their adoptive parents. For in such a case the commonwealth pays to the household in question an equivalent to what would have been the cost of maintenance at the orphanage; and as, besides the ordinary expenses of living in every Freeland house, the fee for personal superintendence must be paid out of this equivalent, the allowance will not be much more than the child will cost its foster-parents. Thus no parental provision is needed to save the orphans from being dependent upon the liberality or goodwill of strangers. But I should tell you that this interposition of friendly or even related families on behalf of orphans is exceptional. Unless circumstances are very much in favour of such an arrangement, Freeland parents prefer to leave their children to the care of the public orphanages. And this is very intelligible to all who have had opportunities of observing the touching tenderness of the guardian angels who rule in these houses, and of the intimate relations which quickly develop between the children and their attendants. Our Board of Maintenance, supported by our Board of Education, lays great weight upon this part of its duty. Only the most approved masters and mistresses—and the latter must also be experienced nurses—are appointed as guardians of the orphans; and to have been successfully occupied in this work for a number of years is a high distinction zealously striven after, particularly by the flower of our young women.'

'I can quite understand that,' I said. 'May I, in this connection, ask how you deal with the right of inheritance in general, and of inheritance of real property in particular? For here, in property in houses there seems to me to be a rock upon which your general principles as to property in land might be wrecked. It is one of the fundamental principles of your organisation that no one can have a right of property in land; but houses—if I have been rightly informed—are private property. How do you reconcile these things?'

'Everyone,' answered David, 'can dispose freely of his own property, at death as in life. The right of bequest is free and unqualified; but it must be noted that between husband and wife there is an absolute community of goods, whence it follows that only the survivor can definitively dispose of the common property. The right of property in the house, however, cannot be divided; and it is not allowable to build more than one dwelling-house upon a house-and-garden plot. Finally, the dwelling-house must be used by the owner, and cannot be let to another. If the house-plot be used for any other purpose than as the site of the owner's home, the breach of the law involves no punishment, and no force will be brought to bear upon the owner, but the owner at once loses his exclusive right as usufructuary of the plot. The plot becomes at once, ipso facto, ground to which no one has a special right, and to which everyone has an equal claim. For, according to our views, there is no right of property in land, and therefore not in the building-site of the house; and the right to appropriate such ground to one's own house is simply a right of usufruct for a special purpose. Just as, for example, the traveller by rail has a claim to the seat which he occupies, but only for the purpose of sitting there, and not for the purpose of unpacking his goods or of letting it to another, so I have the right to reserve for myself, merely for occupation, the spot of ground upon which I wish to fix my home; and no one has any more right to settle upon my building-site than he has to occupy my cushion in the railway, even if it should be possible to crowd two persons into the one seat. But neither am I at liberty to make room for a friend upon my seat; for my fellow-travellers are not likely to approve of the inconvenience thereby occasioned, and they may protest that the legs and elbows of the sharer of my seat crowd them too much, and that the air-space calculated for one pair of lungs is by my arbitrary action shared by two pair. Just so my house-neighbours are not likely to approve of having my walls and roof too near to theirs, and will resent the arbitrary act by which I fill the air-space of the town with more persons than the commonwealth allows.

'Now, in the exercise of my right of usufruct of a definite plot of ground, I have inseparably connected with this plot something over which I have not merely the right of usufruct, but also the right of property—namely, a house. Consequently my right of usufruct passes over to the person to whom—whether gratuitously or not—I transfer my right of property in the house. Therefore I can sell, or bequeath, or give away my house without being prevented from doing so by the fact that I have no right of property in the building-site.

'But if, through any circumstances independent of my labour or of the building cost, the site on which my house stands acquires a value above that of other building-sites, this increased value belongs not to me, but to those who have given rise to it, and that is, without exception, the community. Let us suppose that building-ground in Eden Vale has acquired such an exceptional value, while there are still sites available throughout Freeland for milliards of persons: this local increase of value can be attributed merely to the fact that the excellent streets, public grounds, splendid monuments, theatres, libraries—in short, the public institutions of Eden Vale—have made living in this town more desirable than in any other place in the country. But these public institutions are not my work—they are the work of the community; and I have no right to put into my pocket the increased ground-value derived from the common enjoyment of these institutions. All that I myself have expended upon the house and garden belongs to me, and on a change of ownership must be either made good to me or put to my credit; but the ground-price—and, indeed, the whole of it—belongs to the commonwealth; for building-sites which offer no advantages over any others are, in view of the still existing surplus of unoccupied ground, valueless. The commonwealth, therefore, has, strictly speaking, a right at any time to claim this value or an equivalent; and if the question were an important one, it would be advisable actually to exercise this right—that is, from time to time, or at least on a change of ownership, to assess the value of the sites of houses and gardens, and to appropriate the surplus of the sale-price to the public treasury.

'In reality, in view of our other arrangements, this question of the value of building-sites in Freeland is of no importance whatever. It must not be forgotten that our private houses are not lodging-houses, but merely family dwellings. As I have already said, every contract to let renders absolutely void the occupier's right of exclusive usufruct of the house-site. He who lets his house has, by the very act of doing so, made his plot masterless. A secret letting is prevented by our general constitution, and particularly by the central bank, which we will visit next. Thus the increased value which may be acquired by a building-plot cannot become a question of importance, and we are able to refrain altogether from interfering with free trade in houses. We buy, sell, bequeath, and give away our dwelling-houses, and no one troubles himself about it. I may remark, in passing, that up to the present there has been no noticeable increase in the prices of sites. A man pays for his house what the house itself is held to be worth, the trifling differences being due to the greater or less taste exhibited in the structure, the greater or less beauty of the garden, &c., &c. But that the Eden Vale plots, for example, as such, have a special value cannot be asserted, as there are still many thousands freely available to anyone, but which are not taken. The conveniences of life are pretty evenly distributed throughout Freeland, and no town can boast of attractions which are not balanced by attractions of other kinds in other towns. Eden Vale, for instance, possesses the most splendid buildings, and is distinguished by incomparable natural beauty; hence it is less adapted to industries, and has no agricultural colony in its neighbourhood. Dana City, on the other hand, which is specially suitable for industry, and is in the midst of agricultural land, is unattractive to many on account of its ceaseless and noisy business activity. And, in general, we Freelanders are not fond of large towns; we love to have woods and meadows as near us as possible, and those who are able to live in the country do it in preference to living in towns. Of course, there is not likely to be any lack of rural building-sites; hence there can never be any ground-price proper among us. If, however, building-ground should acquire a price, we are in any case protected by our way and manner of building and living from such prices as would give rise to any material derangement of our property relations. Whether a family residence has a higher or a lower value is, therefore, after all, only a question of subordinate interest, and it is not worth the trouble, in order to equalise the differences in value which arise, to bring into play an apparatus which, under the circumstances, might lead to chicanery.'

I agreed with him. Wishing, however, to understand this important matter in all its relations, I supposed a case in which the opportunity of gaining an extraordinarily high profit was connected with a certain definite locality, and asked what would happen then. 'Let us imagine that in a small valley surrounded by uninhabitable rocks or marshes, a mine of incalculable value is discovered, the exploitation of which would give twice or thrice as much profit as the average profit in Freeland at that time. Naturally everyone will labour at this mine until the influx of workers produces an equilibrium in the profits. If there were sufficient space round the mine for dwelling-houses, nothing would stand in the way of this equalisation of profits; but as, in the supposed case, the space is limited, only the first comers will be able to work at the mine; all later comers—unless they camp out—will be as effectually excluded from competing as if an insuperable barrier had been raised round the mine. The fortunate usufructuaries of the few building-sites will, therefore, be in the pleasant situation of permanently pocketing twice or thrice the average proceeds of labour—let us say, for example, 1,600L a year, whilst 600L is the average. Consequently their early occupation of the ground will be worth 1,000L a year to them, exactly the same as to a London house-owner the lucky circumstance that his ancestors set up their huts on that particular spot on the banks of the Thames is worth his 1,000L or more a year. That this is the rule and is the principal source of wealth, not only in London, but everywhere outside of Freeland, whilst in this country it would require an extraordinary concurrence of circumstances to produce similar phenomena, makes no difference in the fact itself that it can occur everywhere, and that, if you know of no means to prevent it, the ground-rent you have fortunately got rid of might revive among you. Nay, in this—I will admit extreme—case the Freeland institutions would prove themselves a hindrance to the national exploitation of such a highly profitable opportunity for labour, the most intense utilisation of which would evidently be to the general interest. If such a case occurred in Europe or America, the fortunate owners would surround the mines with large lodging-barracks, from which certainly they would without any trouble derive enormous profits, but which at the same time would make it possible to extract the rich treasures from the earth. Your Freeland house-right, on the contrary, would in such a case prevent the exploitation of the treasure of the earth, merely in order that an exceptional increase of the wealth of individuals should be avoided. And yet it is characteristic of your institutions as a whole to render labour more productive than is possible under an exploiting system of industry. A correct principle, however, must be correct under all circumstances.'

'That is also my view,' answered David; 'but in such cases even your Western law affords a means of help—namely, expropriation. Let it be assumed that we could by no means whatever make the neighbourhood of the mine accommodate a greater number of dwelling-houses; then, in the public interest, we would redeem the houses already existing at the mine, and in their place we would erect large lodging-houses after the pattern of our hotels. If that would not suffice to accommodate as many workers as were required in order to bring the profit of labour at the mine into equilibrium with the average profit of the country, we would proceed to the last resource and expropriate the mine for the benefit of the commonwealth. By no means would even such a very improbable contingency present any serious difficulties to the carrying out of our principles. For you will certainly admit that the undertaking of a really monopolist production by the commonwealth is not contrary to our principles. If you would deny it, you must go farther, and assert that in working the railways, the telegraphs, the post, nay, even in assuming the ultimate control of the community, there is to be found a violation of the principle of individual freedom.'

'You are only too right,' I answered, 'and I cannot defend myself from the charge of harbouring a doubt which would have been seen to be superfluous if I had only been unreservedly willing to admit that the people of Freeland, whatever might happen, would probably make the wisest and not the stupidest provision against such a contingency as I imagined. The ground of that inconceivable stubbornness with which we adherents of the old are apt to resist every new idea is, that we imagine difficulties, which exist only in our fancy, and most unnecessarily suppose that there is no other way of surmounting those imaginary difficulties than the stupidest imaginable. We then triumphantly believe we have reduced the new ideas ad absurdum; whilst we should have done better to have been ashamed of our own absurdities.'

With this fierce self-accusation I will close my letter to-day; but not without telling you in confidence that in making it I was thinking less of myself than of—others.

——



CHAPTER XVIII

Eden Vale: Aug. 6, ——

Yesterday, accompanied by the two English agents, we inspected the Freeland Central Bank. The comprehensive and—as a necessary consequence— exceedingly simple clearing system excited the highest admiration of the two experienced gentlemen. The remarkably small amount of cash required to adjust the accounts of the whole of the gigantic business transactions drew from Lord E—— the inquiry why Freeland retained gold as a measure of value. He thought that, as the Freelanders already made the value of a unit of labour-time the standard of calculation in their most important affairs, the simplest plan would be to universalise this method—that is, to declare the labour-hour to be the measure of value, the money-unit. This would, he thought, far better harmonise with the general social order of Freeland, in which labour is the source and basis of all value.

The director of the bank (Mr. Clark) replied: 'That is a view which has been repeatedly expressed by strangers; but it is based simply upon confounding the measure of value with the source of income. For labour alone is not the source of value, though most Socialists adopt this error of the so-called classical economists as the ground of their demands. If all value were derived from labour and from labour alone, then even among you in the old exploiting world everything would be in favour of the workers, for even there the workers have control over their working power. The misery among you is due to the fact that the workers have no control over the other things which are requisite for the creation of value, namely, the product of previous work—i.e. capital, and the forces and materials derived from nature. We in Freeland have guaranteed to labour the whole of what it assists to produce. But we do not base this right upon the erroneous proposition that labour is the sole source of the value of what it produces, but upon the proposition that the worker has the same claim to the use of those other factors requisite for the creation of value as he has to his working-power. But this is only by the way. Even if labour were the only source of and the only ingredient in value, it would still be in any case the worst conceivable measure of value; for it is of all things that possess value the one the value of which is most liable to variations. Its value rises with every advance in human dexterity and industry; that is, a labour-day or a labour hour is continuously being transformed into an increasing quantity of all imaginable other kinds of value. That the value of the product of labour differs as the labour-power is well or badly furnished with tools, well or badly applied, cannot be questioned, and never has been seriously questioned. Now, among us in Freeland all labour-power is as well equipped and applied as possible, because the perfect and unlimited freedom of labour to apply itself at any time to whatever will then create the highest value brings about, if not an absolute, yet a relative equilibrium of values; but, in order that this may be brought about, there must exist an unchangeable and reliable standard by which the value of the things produced by labour can be measured. That the labour expended by us upon shoe goods and upon textile fabrics, upon cereals and turnery goods, possesses the same value is shown by the fact that these various kinds of wares produced in the same period of time possess the same value; but this fact can be shown, not by a comparison between the respective amounts of labour-time, but only by a comparison with something that has a constant value in itself. If we concluded that the things which required an equal time to produce were of equal value because they were produced in an equal time, we might soon find ourselves producing shoes which no one wanted, while we were suffering from a lack of textile fabrics; and we might see with unconcern the superfluity of turnery wares, the production of which was increasing, while perhaps all available hands were required in order to correct a disastrous lack of cereals. To make the labour-day the measure of value—if it were not, for other reasons, impossible—involves Communism, which, instead of leaving the adjustment of the relations between supply and demand to free commerce, fixes those relations by authority; doing this, of course, without asking anyone what he wishes to enjoy, or what he wishes to do, but authoritatively prescribing what everyone shall consume, and what he shall produce.

'But we in Freeland strive after what is the direct opposite of Communism—namely, absolute individual freedom. Consequently we, more imperatively than any other people, need a measure of value as accurate and reliable as possible—that is, one the exchange-power of which, with reference to all other things, is exposed to as little variation as possible. This best possible, most constant, standard the civilised world has hitherto found rightly in gold. There is no difference in value between two equal quantities of gold, whilst one labour-day may be very materially more valuable than another; and there is no means of ascertaining with certainty the difference in value of the two labour-days except by comparing them both with one and the same thing which possesses a really constant value. Yet this equality in value of equal quantities of gold is the least of the advantages possessed by gold over other measures of value. Two equal quantities of wheat are of nearly equal value. But the value of gold is exposed to less variation than is the value of any other thing. Two equal quantities of wheat are of equal value at the same time; but to-morrow they may both be worth twice as much as to-day, or they may sink to half their present value; while gold can change its value but very little in a short time. If its exchange-relation to any commodity whatever alters suddenly and considerably, it can be at once and with certainty assumed that it is the value not of the gold, but of the other commodity, which has suddenly and considerably altered. And this is a necessary conclusion from that most unquestionable law of value according to which the price of everything is determined by supply and demand, if we connect with this law the equally unquestionable fact that the supply and demand of no other thing are exposed to so small a relative variation as are those of gold. This fact is not due to any mysterious quality in this metal, but to its peculiar durability, in consequence of which in the course of thousands of years there has been accumulated, and placed at the service of those who can demand it, a quantity of gold sufficient to make the greatest temporary variations in its production of no practical moment. Whilst a good or a bad wheat harvest makes an enormous difference in the supply of wheat for the time being, because the old stock of wheat is of very subordinate importance relatively to the results of the new harvest, the amount of gold in the world remains relatively unaltered by the variations, however great they may be, of even several years of gold-production, because the existing stock of gold is enormously greater than the greatest possible gold-production of any single year. If all the gold-mines in the world suddenly ceased to yield any gold, no material influence would be produced upon the quantity of available gold; whilst a single general failure in the cereal crop would at once and inevitably produce the most terrible corn-famine. This, then, is the reason why gold is the best possible, though by no means an absolutely perfect, measure of value. But labour-time would be the worst conceivable measure of value, for neither are two equal periods of labour necessarily of equal value, nor does labour-time in general possess an unalterable value, but its exchange-power in relation to all other things increases with every step forward in the methods of labour.'

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